People are the heart of a successful and profitable business. Establishing an innovative culture is essential for transformation.

We’ve seen that partners truly transforming their businesses have started with their employees and culture.  Your culture is the soul of your company. As your business shifts from time-and-materials projects to annuity-based services, your culture will move toward creativity and innovation, and your employees must be empowered to chase bold new ideas that help grow the business.

To keep up with an evolving digital landscape and drive greater agility, partners also are changing how they hire, train, pay, and engage with employees. A recent IDC survey of 600 partners worldwide shows that digitally-enabled partners are making major changes to their HR ecosystem. The chart below breaks down the employee initiatives that partners have done to increase digital maturity.

A theme throughout the digital survey was an emphasis on agility, which is bolstered by your hiring practices.

 

Culture is the Center of Everything

BitTitan CEO Geeman Yip has it right when he states, “You have to change within before you can change externally, and you need a culture that cultivates and fosters collaboration, which helps create an environment for innovation.”

Successful cultures for transformation are passionate, fun, open, transparent, accountable, honest, and diverse.  Diversity is so important because transformation requires diverse ideas and shared purpose.

In its 2015 Report “Diversity Matters,” McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective industry medians.

Your culture must foster constant learning and evolution through risk-taking and the ability to fail and iterate. It starts at the top with leaders who demonstrate the value of listening and showcase the great ideas.

In my blog “How to Develop a Culture of Transformation,” I emphasize how culture starts from the top and leaders must be able to take ideas from anyone, and recognize employees are critical to innovation and transformation.

 

Hiring

Your skill needs are changing with technology and your competitors are rethinking their recruitment and development initiatives. Emerging skills are both in demand and in short supply. Attracting and keeping employees will impact your bottom line.

Meeting the challenges of evolving customers requires multidisciplinary teams that can respond rapidly to often ambiguous problems. To construct agile teams, attract people that thrive in agile environments. You should screen for cultural fit and operational acumen, then train necessary skills. To keep up with the competition, your company must be aware of new capabilities and embrace modern technologies.

Next, you must keep your talent challenged and fulfilled. In a competitive market, your professional development programs can help you stand out.

 

Skills development

Training is a strategic and ongoing activity for digitally mature partners. They use workforce data to inform staffing and skill development. Aggressive learning is part of the culture.

Developing talent for a modern practice requires well-structured but evolving learning paths. Self-service learning and ongoing certifications enable self-paced skills development. It’s difficult and expensive to hire for specific digital skills, so training may be your best option for people with the right temperament, experience, and core skills.

One way to drive training is to provide career development incentives. Partner Dimension Data creates training profiles for its employees with profile status changes after training completion. Employees can only see open roles based on their training profile.

It’s important to note that legacy IT skills and experience still have value in digital transformation projects. Microsoft partner Hanu used retraining programs for its “old guard” IT people. While emerging areas such as data science bring in a new generation of skills, Hanu found that the large range of customer scenarios—often involving legacy technologies—required a broader set of skills.

To maintain a learning culture, consider skills growth and staff retention as KPIs for talent management.

Your people are the key to fostering continued growth and digital transformation. As you define your strategy, make sure you take the time to evaluate how to empower your employees for continued success.

Look soon for the next e-book in the Microsoft Digital Transformation Series: Optimizing Operations.